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4th Grade Massachusetts Curriculum

In 4th grade, students develop experiments to answer questions and build prototypes to solve problems related to real-world phenomena. Each month-long unit gives students the opportunity to develop ideas and build on concepts integrated across different disciplines over time.
4th Grade STEM Curriculum Massachusetts

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  • Unit 1
  • Unit 1: Matter and Energy

    In Unit 1 Matter and Energy, students explore how scientists on the International Space Station carry out experiments to look for patterns and cause-and-effect relationships in the world around them.

    • Students design an experiment to investigate the properties of matter by analyzing the mass of equal volumes of two different substances.
    • Students build and use pan balance models to explore the difference between mass and weight, using their observations to analyze how the force of gravity affects an object’s motion in the solar system and on Earth.
    • Students design an experiment with marbles, ramps, and obstructions to investigate how objects moving at different speeds transfer energy in a collision.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 4-PS3-1, 4-PS3-3

    Supporting Standards: 3-PS2-1, 5-PS1-1, 5-PS2-1, 5-ESS1-1, 5-ESS1-2

    Massachusetts 4th Grade STEM Curriculum - Matter and Energy - 4-PS3-1, 4-PS3-3
  • Unit 2
  • Unit 2: Shaping Earth’s Surface

    In Unit 2 Shaping Earth’s Surface, students investigate how Earth’s systems and natural processes have shaped the Grand Canyon and Earth’s surface over time.

    • Students use tectonic plate models and maps to analyze how plate boundaries create patterns in Earth’s surface features.
    • Students design and carry out an experiment to test how the force of moving water erodes sediment, changing the land.
    • Students analyze geologic clues in a sample of quarry rock to piece together how the landscape changed over time and the Earth processes responsible for those changes.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 4-ESS1-1, 4-ESS2-1, 4-ESS2-2, 4-ESS3-1

    Supporting Standards: 3-LS4-1, 5-PS1-3, 5-PS1-4

    Massachusetts 4th Grade STEM Curriculum - Shaping Earth's Surface - 4-ESS1-1, 4-ESS2-1, 4-ESS2-2, 4-ESS3-1
  • Unit 3
  • Unit 3: Earth and Human Activity

    In Unit 3 Earth and Human Activity, students explore how Earth’s hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere interact by investigating the phenomena of aquifer formation, urban flooding, and hydroelectric dams capturing energy in moving water.

    • Students analyze how Earth’s systems interact in the water cycle by designing and carrying out an experiment to determine which Earth material is most permeable to water.
    • Students work in small teams to engineer a permeable concrete material that solves the problem of flooding in urban environments.
    • Students analyze data from different sources to study the effects of hydroelectric dams on native Chinook salmon populations over time in the Columbia River.

    Grade Specific Standards: 4-ESS1-1, 4-ESS3-2, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA)

    Supporting Standards: 3-ESS2-1, 3-ESS2-2, 3-ESS3-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA), 5-ESS2-1, 5-ESS2-2, 5-ESS3-1, 5-ESS3-2 (MA)

    Massachusetts 4th Grade STEM Curriculum - Earth and Human Activity - 4-ESS1-1, 4-ESS3-2, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA)
  • Unit 4
  • Unit 4: Plant and Animal Structures

    In Unit 4 Plant and Animal Structures, students explore how living things depend on their environment and one another for survival.

    • Students develop a model to analyze how energy flows through a food web in the Pantanal wetlands of South America.
    • Students work in small teams to analyze plant structures by developing and carrying out an experiment to see how temperature affects the transpiration rate in plants.
    • Students compare the patterns of growth and development in organisms by observing how the internal and external structures of frogs function to support their growth and development as they move through their life cycle.

    Grade-Specific Standard: 4-LS1-1

    Supporting Standards: 3-LS1-1, 3-LS4-5(MA), 5-LS1-1, 5-LS2-1, 5-PS3-1

    Massachusetts 4th Grade STEM Curriculum - Plant and Animal Structures - 4-LS1-1
  • Unit 5
  • Unit 5: Organisms and Their Environment

    In Unit 5 Organisms and Their Environment, students investigate how animals process information from the environment with sensory structures and how that information influences behaviors.

    • Students carry out several investigations to analyze the behavioral responses of mealworms to different types of sensory stimuli to evaluate how the external structures of insects allow them to receive information through their senses.
    • Students carry out an experiment in which they test how a bird’s beak is best suited for particular kinds of food to analyze the relationship between an organism’s adaptations and its ability to survive in its environment.

    Grade-Specific Standard: 4-LS1-1

    Supporting Standards: 3-LS3-1, 3-LS3-2, 3-LS4-2, 3-LS4-3, 3-LS4-4, 3-LS4-5 (MA)

    Massachusetts 4th Grade STEM Curriculum - Organisms and Their Environment - 4-LS1-1
  • Unit 6
  • Unit 6: Energy Transfers

    In Unit 6 Energy Transfers, students investigate how simple machines make life easier and how levers can be used to launch projectiles by exploring the relationship between forces, energy, and motion.

    • Students use levers and load materials to carry out several investigations, analyzing how the position of a lever’s fulcrum and the effort force affect the amount of force needed to lift a load.
    • Students investigate how levers can be used to change potential energy to kinetic energy to launch projectiles.
    • Students work in teams to engineer a prototype launcher that throws balls as far as possible, using what they know about how simple machines can be used to change energy from one form to another.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-4, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA)

    Supporting Standards: 3-PS2-1, 5-PS2-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA), 5-ETS3-1 (MA), 5-ETS3-2 (MA)

    Massachusetts 4th Grade STEM Curriculum - Energy Transfers - 4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-4, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5(MA)
  • Unit 7
  • Unit 7: Electrical Energy

    In Unit 7 Electrical Energy, students explore how devices such as flashlights and electric car motors function by investigating how energy is transferred in circuits and can do work.

    • Students observe how electrical energy can be transferred by building circuits with motors and analyzing how the flow of current electricity through a circuit can change direction depending on the configuration of the circuit.
    • Students use gears, motors, and other small car components to engineer an electric car that converts electrical energy into motion to move in a straight line to its destination.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-4, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA)

    Supporting Standards: 5-PS1-3, 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA), 5-ETS3-1 (MA), 5-ETS3-2 (MA)

    Massachusetts 4th Grade STEM Curriculum - Electrical Energy - 4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-4, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA)
  • Unit 8
  • Unit 8: Sound Waves

    In Unit 8 Sound Waves, students investigate how whales communicate over long distances by exploring how sound energy is transferred in waves of vibrating molecules.

    • Students explore wave properties and how waves transfer energy by observing mechanical waves in water tanks and transverse and longitudinal sound waves in slinky springs.
    • Students work in small teams to design and carry out an experiment to test the factors that affect the pitch of fishing line string on a wooden pegboard instrument.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 4-PS3-2, 4-PS4-1

    Supporting Standards: 5-PS1-1, 5-PS1-3

    Massachusetts 4th Grade STEM Curriculum - Sound Waves - 4-PS3-2, 4-PS4-1
  • Unit 9
  • Unit 9: Light and Communication

    In Unit 9 Light and Communication, students explore how different technologies use patterns of sound, light, or numbers to transfer information from one place to another.

    • Students investigate how patterns of 1s and 0s can be used to transfer information about a picture.
    • Students engineer and compare two different prototype solutions that use sound and light patterns to transfer information.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-4, 4-PS4-2, 4-PS4-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA)

    Supporting Standards: 5-PS1-3, 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA), 5-ETS3-1 (MA), 5-ETS3-2 (MA)

    Massachusetts 4th Grade STEM Curriculum - Light and Communication - 4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-4, 4-PS4-2, 4-PS4-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA)

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